Star Trek: Discovery: There Is a Tide...
December 31, 2020 7:16 AM - Season 3, Episode 12 - Subscribe

A little too late for Christmas, but there's some serious McClaneing in this one. Also, Vance and Osyraa have a little talk.

Memory Alpha is willing to negotiate:

  • Kenneth Mitchell plays Aurelio in this episode; Mitchell previously played the Klingons Kol, Kol-Sha, and Tenavik in DIS, as well as three different voice parts in the LD episode "Veritas"; at this rate, he'll be the Vaughn Armstrong of this era of Trek (NuNuTrek? KurtzmannTrek?). Mitchell was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as "Lou Gehrig's disease") in August 2018; his use of a wheelchair was incorporated into Aurelio's backstory.


  • The episode was previously titled "The Good of the People."


  • The title of this episode is taken from a line of William Shakespeare's play, Julius Caesar. The relevant passage reads:
    There is a tide in the affairs of men
    Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
    Omitted, all the voyage of their life
    Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
    On such a full sea are we now afloat,
    And we must take the current when it serves,
    Or lose our ventures.


  • Poster's Log:

    As the attached io9 review points out, ships being boarded and the subsequent repulsion of the boarders is a very venerable plot trope in Trek (and elsewhere; TVTropes calls it Die Hard on an X), so it's not as if we didn't see that part of this ep coming, and a lot of the specific beats are likewise familiar; Burnham blowing the regulators out of the Jeffries tube mirrors a similar maneuver in VOY's "Scorpion, Part II", and Starfleet officers knowing and using Morse code is canon. But this ep also has Vance very cautiously negotiating with Osyraa, who continues to be more impressive with each new appearance; her stance that the Federation and the Emerald Chain are not so different is reminiscent of the Dominion's Weyoun talking to Sisko on DS9, and she's very good at it, although claiming that the lie detector hologram is "glitching" is patently disingenuous. In the meantime, her thugs are thuggin' it up on the ship, with Zareh (from this season's second ep) making an unwelcome reappearance, and Aurelio trying to appeal to Stamets as a fellow scientist, although he may be losing his Emerald Chain religion by the end of this ep.

    The next and last episode of this season is next week, and I'm guessing that we're gearing up for another big space battle on the order of the one that ended S2. I'm wondering how things will be resolved on DilithiumWorld (no scenes there this ep), and also wondering if things are going to be OK between Stamets and Burnham; that scene was wrenching, and even though I think that Burnham was right--Stamets is basically the most strategically important person in the Federation right now--I get where Stamets is coming from.

    Poster's Log, supplemental: I may have spelled it "McClaining" in the past. Do I need to go back and fix some tags? Well, three-day weekend coming up... On a more serious note, I'd also like to point out that the recent documentary on HBO Max of Heaven's Gate (which I did an FF post on a few days ago), which has a Star Trek connection that's well-known if not notorious, is very good, if wrenching in parts.

    io9: Star Trek: Discovery Finally Hit Its Crew Where It Hurts
    posted by Halloween Jack (39 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
     
    Weird that they would schedule their Christmas episode a week late.
    posted by 1970s Antihero at 9:33 AM on December 31, 2020 [2 favorites]


    TEWL that Grudge has an Inertial Dampening Basket to loaf in.

    And that there are holographic AI lie detectors, but Interplanetary Diplomatic and Trade Contract Between Hostile Entities Review is done by just one guy scrolling through it. 'this seems thorough'.
    posted by bartleby at 1:45 PM on December 31, 2020 [4 favorites]


    This episode was thrilling. Political negotiations. Tense stand offs. High action. Emotional beats. Really great stuff.

    Now... who do we think the President of the Federation is going to turn out to be?
    posted by crossoverman at 5:25 PM on December 31, 2020 [2 favorites]


    This episode worked way better for me than last week's (and while last week's might still work in retrospect if they stick the landing next week... open question at this point). I especially appreciate that they've bucked the Badmiral trope with Vance, and I agree with the framing in the post that Osyraa comes off as a more interesting antagonist the more we see her. The "retaking the ship" plot is, as previously mentioned, nothing new, but I always enjoy it when it's implemented well, as I thought it was here.

    The one thing I can't really figure out is what's supposed to be going on with Janet Kidder's accent — she mostly sounds North American (and looking it up, I see she's from Canada, so that makes sense), but she drops her 'r' sounds sometimes in a way that sounds off to me. Is that just an acting choice?

    I feel like this season went by really fast, and for the most part, I've really enjoyed it. The biggest misfire for me was the Georgiou two-parter, which totally killed the momentum, but this has otherwise been a consistently fun escape in a dreary time and I'll miss it when it's off for the season after next week.
    posted by Kosh at 5:35 PM on December 31, 2020 [2 favorites]


    The McClaining had a lot of "highschool hijinks" energy which was oddly satisfying and appropriate. I think it was the morse code gag re: 23C Federation aspired to be "boyscouts" and the "plucky underdogs vs. combat specialists." Tilly has put up a surprisingly good show - thanks in part to the crew supporting her.

    I get the Stamets thing from both sides. How it turns out really depends on how it turns out with Culbert and Adira. Burnham made the right call. It's not like the Discovery takes any actual time to travel somewhere and getting Stamets out of there increases the odds that they can resolve the situation here and go back out to the nebula in the lesser amount of time (if at all).

    Surprised with the outcome with the Andoran (blue) dude, but the plot needed to be paid for emotionally with someone - but in hindsight, that was super planned.

    I'm almost expecting Vance to go full Badmiral and just assassinate Osyraa while she's at Federation HQ.

    Super interesting re: Kenneth Mitchell/ Aurelio!
    posted by porpoise at 7:18 PM on December 31, 2020 [1 favorite]


    Mitchell was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as "Lou Gehrig's disease") in August 2018; his use of a wheelchair was incorporated into Aurelio's backstory.

    My sister's boyfriend, Lamin Martin, was asked to be a concept artist for Discovery from the beginning of the show but he didn't care for the studio they were using (credit stealers) so he declined. Shortly after he was diagnosed with ALS. He passed just before the pandemic. It's strange for me reading about Mitchell.
    posted by juiceCake at 7:59 PM on December 31, 2020 [3 favorites]


    Speaking of Die Hard references, it’s worth noting that Michael is not currently wearing shoes.
    posted by schmod at 8:14 PM on December 31, 2020 [10 favorites]


    not currently wearing shoes.

    Ha!

    She put on some boots after rescuing Stamets (and didn't complain about how they were Spock's size).

    (although I liked the frozen enforcer drifted past with Michael's boots in her hands, less so that the enforcer's legs seems to have cracked off for some reason)
    posted by porpoise at 8:29 PM on December 31, 2020 [2 favorites]


    Was the opera Aurelio listened to musically related to the musical theme featured repeatedly earlier in the season?

    If so, what about the then-young Kelpian's grief at losing his mother (I'm presuming) and causing The Burn relates to this music becoming ubiquitous across the galaxy?

    Last, unrelated, nice heads-up from the writers ... if/when we ever do find a wormhole we can't presume to be the first to do so, there may (likely) be a bunch of roadkill in there already we should account for ahead of time.
    posted by riverlife at 12:47 AM on January 1 [1 favorite]


    Seconding the praise for Admiral Vance. Top-notch work from Fehr in this one. I was almost more interested in the treaty negotiation side of the plot than the Jefferies-tubing.

    Now... who do we think the President of the Federation is going to turn out to be?

    Tom Hardy as Robo-Clone Picard.

    If so, what about the then-young Kelpian's grief at losing his mother (I'm presuming) and causing The Burn relates to this music becoming ubiquitous across the galaxy?

    Hmmmmmm! Maybe dilithium, when shattered and exposed to certain ~handwavey nebula effects, acts as a kind of psionic resonator with reeeeeeally long range.

    this era of Trek (NuNuTrek? KurtzmannTrek?)

    AllAccessTrek?
    posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 7:05 AM on January 1 [2 favorites]


    1) Vance somehow managed to deliver the "Replicators run on poop" line with incredible gravitas. I giggled.

    2) Can we just put Jonathan Frakes in charge of the entire franchise? Everything he's done recently has been fantastic.
    posted by schmod at 7:26 AM on January 1 [5 favorites]


    Good points, schmod, but Frakes is actually #1 and poop is #2.
    posted by snofoam at 8:48 AM on January 1 [14 favorites]


    Seconding the praise for Admiral Vance. Top-notch work from Fehr in this one. I was almost more interested in the treaty negotiation side of the plot than the Jefferies-tubing.
    QFT!

    Last week someone theorized that there was no president and that the Federation as we understood it may not exist. Either direction would really change the Trek universe. Too bad Osyraa couldn't agree. She probably could have escaped any serious repercussions for her actions.

    From a certain view you can see how Michael's actions turn her into Osayraa who them ends up as Emperor Georgiou.
    posted by jojo and the benjamins at 1:56 PM on January 1 [1 favorite]


    Are we not going to talk about -- Moe, Larry, and Curly -- or Huey, Dewey, and Louis -- Sphere-bots?
    posted by mikelieman at 4:33 PM on January 1 [3 favorites]


    They're Evas from WALL-3, yeah? They are stored in little EV-[some number] pods around Discovery, or I'm badly understanding? I was wondering what they were doing all over the credits this season, mystery solved. The downloaded digital brain of a 100,000-year-old Sphere entity really likes the Federation, regardless of millennium, that's kinda cool.
    posted by riverlife at 6:26 PM on January 1 [3 favorites]


    100,000-year-old Sphere entity really likes the Federation

    omg, I never got the Sphere/ whatever. But... sheeet.

    As an AI, it's beneficence towards the Discovery/ Federation has to benefit the AI in some way. Extreme propositions: 1) somehow is able to "release" the AI, 2) creates an utopia (to the AI) where the AI achieves a goal, be it the creation of other "peer" AIs or somesuch.

    A timey-whimey reason could be that the Sphere needs the Federation in order for it to become the Sphere in the first place, at some point in the Fed's future.

    The lack of forthright communication with the meatsacks is very suspicious, no matter what.
    posted by porpoise at 7:40 PM on January 1 [3 favorites]


    Now... who do we think the President of the Federation is going to turn out to be?

    Maybe the backup copy of the EMH that was reactivated in the Kyrian-Vaskan museum in “Living Witness.” He was reactivated about a century ago, a little after the Burn. At the end of his episode, he is said to serve as Surgical Chancellor for “many years” before heading in his own back to the Alpha Quadrant.
    posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:21 AM on January 2 [3 favorites]


    This episode was less dumb than the previous.
    The talk of the president being too busy did make me think that the federation is basically just that station and the handful of ships nearby.
    Osyraa was a bit boring, it took me a while to realise why she seemed so odd, until i noticed that her face appears to be paralysed. Orions are big on botox?
    posted by Marticus at 1:55 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


    when they appeared onscreen, Mrs. Fedora immediately called the intro sequence robots “Lock, Shock, and Barrel”
    posted by DoctorFedora at 5:14 AM on January 2 [2 favorites]


    I was just thinking of the implications tree-grown apples vs replicated apples in the context of the Admiral's we replicate food from our shit, and what happens to a tree-grown apple's flavor if it's transported at the non-quantum resolutions used for cargo, and then I wondered, "Do they get the raw materials for the personnel transporters from the same place as the replicators???"
    posted by mikelieman at 7:49 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


    "Do they get the raw materials for the personnel transporters from the same place as the replicators???"

    I think the implication is that, essentially, the future is pretty shitty. Shitty food, shitty technology, shitty clothes.

    it's how you know who the king is

    crossing the streams

    posted by curious nu at 8:59 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


    Also another vote for the next spinoff to be Star Trek: Diplomatic Corps.
    posted by curious nu at 9:00 AM on January 2 [2 favorites]


    Stamets's inability to make unselfish decisions here makes me think Starfleet should have a rule against spouses or family members serving together as senior officers on the same vessel. It also makes me see some wisdom in Vance's initial inclination to break up the crew of Discovery.

    Then again, Burnham's not on the same vessel as her mother, but that doesn't stop her from taking time out of her busy solo attempt to retake the ship to write a heartfelt goodbye letter. Come on, people, keep it together. You're all in mortal peril once a week; get used to it.
    Osyraa was a bit boring, it took me a while to realise why she seemed so odd, until i noticed that her face appears to be paralysed. Orions are big on botox?
    On the Ready Room aftershow for the previous episode, it was mentioned that Janet Kidder was wearing an actual prosthetic face—not just green makeup on her own skin as you might expect. I'm not sure of the reason for that choice, but it might explain the stiffness.
    posted by Syllepsis at 10:39 AM on January 2


    Then again, Burnham's not on the same vessel as her mother, but that doesn't stop her from taking time out of her busy solo attempt to retake the ship to write a heartfelt goodbye letter.

    Or...Burham contacted a member of the Qowat Milat, who only help people with lost causes, to tell her that she’d never see her again, there’s no hope. Cue a Ni’Varian rescue squad next week.
    posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:18 PM on January 2 [5 favorites]


    Upon rethinking this episode, a few things jump out:

    Like the others here, I have no clue what Osyrra is aiming for, but it’s an interesting revelation that the Emerald Chain represents considerably more than just a group of pirates. She’s evil, other factions within the Chain may be considerably less evil, and she seems to be surprisingly pragmatic.

    Specifically, she seems to realize that both the Chain and Federation are on a completely unsustainable trajectory. This is an extremely stark and likely deliberate contrast to the glimpses of the Terran Empire that we got a few episodes ago. The Terrans have no endgame – they only want to win, and literally couldn’t bring themselves to think about what their society would look like once they’d done so (and thus we saw them begin to turn their cruelty inwards).
    posted by schmod at 1:00 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


    Now... who do we think the President of the Federation is going to turn out to be?


    I think we can all agree anyone who isn't Kurtwood Smith is going to be a disappointment.
    posted by biffa at 1:15 PM on January 2 [4 favorites]


    I'm also going to say it was a bad time to tell him you love him, once again undercutting any air of danger / dramatic tension.
    posted by biffa at 4:07 PM on January 2


    Now... who do we think the President of the Federation is going to turn out to be?

    Given Discovery's "standard" of writing, future Tilly.
    posted by juiceCake at 5:03 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


    On the Ready Room aftershow for the previous episode, it was mentioned that Janet Kidder was wearing an actual prosthetic face—not just green makeup on her own skin as you might expect. I'm not sure of the reason for that choice, but it might explain the stiffness.

    That is interesting. A problem with just painting someone green is that that is not how skin works. Light goes through the transparent skin, bounces off the flesh inside, then bounces back out. That's why you can see all the arteries etc. When you paint someone green (to appear "Orion"), you're just seeing an opaque green surface. For it to not look fake, either the color has to be translucent (which is difficult to apply), or the prosthetic has to be translucent in some way, or you can try to paint on skin variation and veins, etc. as a kind of texture painting. I wonder if "realistic" green skin wasn't the goal here, although if that's your goal, why not use smart computer coloring to just add green hue to the skin.

    Like the others here, I have no clue what Osyrra is aiming for, but it’s an interesting revelation that the Emerald Chain represents considerably more than just a group of pirates.

    Isn't this just the typical story arc where after you finish raping the world by being completely ruthless, you then have the remainder of your life to be full of benevolence and largess, because, hey, you really can't take it with you, and you start to want to leave something else behind when you're gone instead of an oil monopoly or a buggy operating system.
    posted by jabah at 6:51 PM on January 2


    Now... who do we think the President of the Federation is going to turn out to be?

    Robot Picard, who would be immortal.
    posted by crossoverman at 9:49 PM on January 2 [4 favorites]


    While I respect the eponysterical suggestion from crossoverman, it seems between the two of us the finalists are Robot Picard and Robert Picardo. Intriguing.
    posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:17 PM on January 2 [5 favorites]


    I'm reasonably sure the armistice agreement isn't worth the paper it's not written on, considering her casual murdering in between negotiating sessions.
    posted by Marticus at 1:19 AM on January 3


    I know it's television, but seriously: any sensible admiral would have said, "This is interesting, let me get it to my lawyers and I'll be back in touch tomorrow."

    I did think that the cause of the failure of negotiations was particularly interesting, though: a commitment to hold criminals accountable for their crimes, even when it's the criminal who is making the negotiation possible. This is like the US negotiating with Al Qaeda and requiring OBL to submit himself to justice. This is an ethical stance with no pragmatism in it at all, because there is no way it is going to be agreed to.

    Presumably Vance knew this. So he was just posturing to keep the moral high ground? Which, it's the Federation, that's what they do.

    I did love the acknowledgement of the source of their replicated materials, and Osyraa's reaction was spot-on.
    posted by suelac at 3:18 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


    I just noticed that according to Memory Alpha, this is the 800th instalment aired of Star Trek. The 1988 airing of the first pilot episode of TOS, "The Cage" (previously absorbed into "The Menagerie" as an extended historical record/flashback) is counted as the eightieth. There was no particular hoopla at reaching #800, or any other landmark so far as I can recall (for what it's worth, the 500th broadcast was Voyager's "Message in a Bottle"). Given the current pace of production and the multiple series in the offing, I reckon we might hit a thousand in a few more years. 2026, maybe?

    There is a tiny in-joke in TNG, though: the seventy-ninth and final episode of TOS, "Turnabout Intruder," begins with the Enterprise answering a distress call from an archaeological expedition on Camus II. In "Legacy," the eightieth episode of TNG, Picard's log states, " "The Enterprise has bypassed its scheduled archaeological survey of Camus II..."
    posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:39 PM on January 3 [9 favorites]


    Loved this episode. I particularly liked the writing for Osyraa. It turns out she's not just Space Mussolini with some plan to suicide bomb the remnants of the Federation inside their shield. She came prepared with a realistic treaty, concessions, and a fairly strong argument that the Emerald Chain's brand of capitalism was valuable and a natural marriage with the Federation. Loved her recognizing the weakness of her reputation for fascism, too. And then they have the scientists; it's widely acknowledged the Chain has the best science and technology. Really the Federation would be foolish not to take the deal.

    Except of course for the idealism. And the murderousness of Osyraa. Tos top the negotations on the basis of the necessity of a war crimes trial for Osyraa... that's the Federation we love.

    The B plot with Michael in the vents and the bridge crew playing at reverse mutineers was a bit silly. But highly entertaining. Stamets' selfishness is too damn much for me though. Also just so everyone is sure to have caught it; he refers to Adira as his child. I mean he and Hugh have been acting like parent standins already, but I wonder how Adira feels about it. Especially since their human half is like 20 already, right? And the Trill is much older.

    As for the sphere data.. It's the deus in machina of the show, and I sorta like it. I got strong Blake's 7 ORAC vibes; it knows everything and can predict the future but isn't in a hurry to tell you. The repair droids do bring up the big Star Trek continuity question again. Where did all these battle drones and repair droids go to? Why didn't any other Star Trek ship have them?

    The big unknown is the Federation President. He dropped that and I'm like "wait, they have a president?" My money is on it being a giant AI. That'd be hilarious.
    posted by Nelson at 8:36 PM on January 5 [2 favorites]


    He dropped that and I'm like "wait, they have a president?"

    Who can forget Jaresh-Inyo's bold stance against martial law on Earth during the Dominion War, only to fold mere months later in the face of a single shapeshifter?
    posted by rocketman at 8:16 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]


    The nature of the treaty seemed a little in the air. They seemed to imply it was the Federation merging with the Chain, or joining the Chain, but they also repeatedly called it an armistice, which is a much much lower bar.

    An armistice, to be followed by a formal peace treaty and normalized relations, and a plan technology share? The tech share is the big lift here, but it's not the worst idea and it seems like there's a lot on offer. The Federation being in the weakened position it's in, it's worth serious considering, and blowing it up like he did seemed pretty dumb.

    I also think it's really dumb that they don't have a safety system that immediately beams anyone suddenly ejected into space to safety. Plus: they'd have that random regulator as a hostage, and it'd set up Stamets' ejection very nicely. They're all about their teleporters in this future, and it'd be a good statement on the Federation's values.

    I imagine the med bay getting an alert, and the teleporter system deliberately holding the person in it's pattern buffer for a short period to allow for prep, and then the person materializing. Anyway.
    posted by vibratory manner of working at 7:41 PM on January 7


    As regarding the president stuff, one thing that's been on my mind is there's no reason for this group to be the only one claiming to be "the federation". Let's see multiple competing federations, who'd been out of contact with each other, and realize upon re-establishing contact that they have somewhat different approaches and it's not obvious they should just merge
    posted by vibratory manner of working at 1:05 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


    > The one thing I can't really figure out is what's supposed to be going on with Janet Kidder's accent — she mostly sounds North American (and looking it up, I see she's from Canada, so that makes sense), but she drops her 'r' sounds sometimes in a way that sounds off to me.

    I noticed that this episode, too, and I don't remember it standing out before. Her accent changes during the negotiations.
    posted by The corpse in the library at 3:58 PM on January 19


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